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Re: Surnames

[ This is the Sinclair family discussion list, sinclair@jump.net.
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Dear Sid;
I dont have a lot of time today, but let me give you a precis of the answer
to your question. Yes Scotsmen adopted other surnames for a number of
reasons and your illustration is an apt one. The Lamonts and MacGregors used
alaises as a form of protection from the Campbells. But the story runs
deeper to the pre 16th century period, when surnames were not as important
and hence the Christian name had the primary importance. Surnames referenced
geography or other persons. Hence Mc or more properly MacGregor is a
derivitive of the "Son" of Gregor. Another custom was to pick the name of
the important person in the goegraphy. I noted even on the list references
to Thomas Jefferson Sinclair, which is one form of adaptation  to a famous
individual in a fixed geography.  Yes many individuals living in a district
were able with honor and impunity refer to themselves as belonging to a clan
by adopting the name and hence falling within the greater family. Sometimes
this needed consent. Frequently it was a just a local custom. Now I have
never read that it was not allowed by the Sinclairs as a clan or family with
blood ties. If you could find that source it would help. What it may have
ment was that permission may have been  required. Now for genealogists, this
is rarely a problem in Scotland because surnames were in accepted practice
as far back as the majority of all the common Scottish records go. The
spellings may be all over the map but the Surname was usually
distinguishable. .
Now for the Sinclairs in Caithness, what follows is educated guesswork and I
know of no documentation. When control (not title) was acquired by Henry
Sinclair the area was populated by both Scotsment and Norsemen. I understand
the culture and language of Norway still exist in the northern Islands. The
mix of blood and adoption gradually had Sinclair become the dominent name by
pre1600 and of couse it continued after the clan system became more
formalized and the clan culture more formalized and organized. The Sinclairs
in that region had no reason to subordinate their name, as others did in the
south due to politics and geography. Now did their Norse neighbours keep
their own names through the generations from 1350 to 1550? I do not know if
there is a way of knowing, but perhaps our cousins in Caithness can shed
more light on this for our common name. I hope this helps a bit. Excellent
Neil Sinclair Toronto-PEI - Argyll
.  -----Original Message-----
From: Sid Griffith <waregl@mindspring.com>
To: sinclair@jump.net <sinclair@jump.net>
Date: 14 March, 1999 7:27 PM
Subject: Surnames

>[ This is the Sinclair family discussion list, sinclair@jump.net.
>[ To get off or on the list, see http://www.mids.org/sinclair/list.html
>Hello all,
>I have read that just because someone posses a certain Scottish surname,
>that doesn't mean that they are of that ancestry or line of decent
>necessarily. I will use the Campbell name for example since that name has
>been a topic of discussion lately. Many people that lived on the Campbell
>lands would adopt the Campbell name as their own even though they did not
>have Campbell blood. Rob Roy MacGregor was known to have used the surname
>Campbell.  I also read that the Sinclairs would not permit serfs to use
>their surname. Meaning that if you are a Sinclair, you are of the Sinclair
>line. Is this correct? Does anyone have more to add to this? Please
>(Sidney Sinclair Griffith, Jr.)